Cecily Brown: Rehearsal

Cecily Brown, Untitled (Paradise), 2014. Watercolor, ink, and ballpoint pen on paper, 14 x 20 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

The Drawing Center will present Cecily Brown: Rehearsal, the artist’s first solo museum show in New York and the first exhibition dedicated to her drawings. Arranged thematically, the more than 80 small drawings, large-scale works, and sketchbooks on view will foreground Brown’s iterative reworking of motifs from her wide-reaching arsenal of source material. Prints by 18th-century draftsman William Hogarth, pages from animal encyclopedias and Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 album cover for Electric Ladyland are just some of the images that Brown has rendered in her own hand. The exhibit is curated by Claire Gilman, senior curator.

The word ‘‘rehearsal,’’ as derived from the Old French rehercier, originally meant to go over something again with the aim of understanding or mastering it. The notion that this repetitive action was geared toward a culminating performance was a later conceit that has obscured the original definition of the word as valuing inquiry in its own right. Rehearsal is a term that, understood in this sense, aptly describes Brown’s drawing practice.

Best known for her paintings that revel in the visceral immediacy of paint, her drawings are more open in their appearance, offering fragmentary motifs that build upon and undo each other in an endlessly renewed quest. They exist as a unique aesthetic approach while simultaneously bringing attention to the investigatory impulse that grounds Brown’s art in general. What we witness in her sketches is the artist’s desire to envision and render palpable the images that attract and confound her (she has said that she draws what she wants to see). Painstaking and obsessive in their efforts to capture an entire scene or the slightest of gestures–a turn of a lion’s head here, the edge of a Bruegel painting there–Brown’s drawings take the act of looking as their very subject.

Cecily Brown was born in London in 1969 and studied painting at the Slade School of Art before relocating to New York, where she currently resides. Solo exhibitions of Brown’s work have been mounted by Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino, Italy; GEM, Museum of Contemporary Art, Den Haag, The Netherlands; Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, Germany; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Modern Art Oxford, UK; Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art (MACRO), Rome; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

She has also been included in group exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany; Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev; and Parasol Unit, London. Brown’s work is represented in numerous collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Morgan Library and Museum, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, where she was included in the 2004 biennial exhibition.

About Andrea Hammer 202 Articles
Andrea K. Hammer, founder and director of Artsphoria Magazine & Boutique, is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer. She has published articles in international publications. Through this expanded edition of Artsphoria, she invites fellow artists, writers, innovators and creative thinkers to join our conversation!